Full Circle

14 months ago I made a certain, abrupt decision that I was no longer going to pursue teaching. I explored other educational programs, had conversations with professionals on other career options and prayed incessantly for direction and clarity in my professional life. You see, I have had the opportunity to work in student ministry for the past four years. Though I only work a few hours a week for my church, it is what I would describe as my dream job. First off, I have the opportunity to work with kids. I have been working and mentoring those younger than me since I was, well, a kid. I have always and will forever see value in children and I have known for a long time that I am meant to work with them in some capacity. Second of all, working in a Christian environment has provided with me with an opportunity to work for a greater purpose. Working in ministry is far from working to receive a paycheck, but rather seeks to develop and support young students in their relationship with God. Lastly, I have witnessed a stark difference between working with people who care about your own personal well-being and working with people who solely want to earn hard money. I am surrounded by people who care about my future, who check in on how my marriage is doing,  and who want to know what’s been on my mind. I have the job of a lifetime and I so desperately wanted a career that could mirror what I am currently invested in. A year ago I was awfully scared that I would have to shut off that faith side of me in my pursuit of education. I felt so called to work in children’s ministry but was so hesitant to trust God in His plan for me.

After many lengthy conversations with people near and dear to me, I decided that the most logical choice was to continue down the road of teaching. I was freshly graduated and soon to be married and it was important that Matt and I had incomes along with job security. I can’t say I was excited to enter into a season of hesitation and fret but it was what I decided to do and I was going to stick it out, knowing that I would have a safe chance at a career right out of the gates as a French Immersion teacher. About a week or so before my days at SFU were set to commence, Matthew and I had a good chat about teaching. I remember that for the first time, I came to the realization that I could perhaps be a light in a secular school, or, that I could consider applying to a Christian school. This idea had never crossed my mind before, but it gave my studies a lot more purpose and calmness as I started my PDP.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was where I was suppose to be. Many can vouch for me in saying that I became quite the enthusiast over the topics that I was learning about. I gained all the more confidence in my French speaking and felt comfortable up in front of the class. As the months went on and I headed into what they call the most stressful practicum there is, I felt nothing but peace. I was set for insanity, I cooked up all the pastas I could for the freezer in preparation for all my time being spent on marking art collages. Needless to say, those pastas are still frozen. My practicum didn’t cause me stress like everyone said it would; in fact the most emotional part of it all was my final goodbye to my very first class.  My grade 5/6 split of cuteness and sass exhausted me at times, and I had to learn some serious classroom management skills, but I created relationships that I won’t soon forget. I found myself thinking of my students long after the day was over and I was enthralled with creating lessons that I knew they would enjoy. They challenged me, taught me grit, patience and drained my classroom voice. I had no idea that leaving them at the end of my nine short weeks would break my heart like it did. I was where I was supposed to be, I knew that early on.

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About half way through my practicum, I was tipped about a position available at a Christian school in Surrey named Pacific Academy. I was told to apply and see what happens. This school was ahead of the game. I hadn’t even had the chance to apply for the public system when I received a call offering me a full time position as a grade 5 teacher starting in September. In shock, I believe my answer was “you mean my very own classroom?!” Now if I am being honest, it caused me a lot of grief deciding whether or not to go into a public or private school system. I continue to see so much value and opportunity in both sectors. I felt like I hit a crossroad. I was in the midst of spending all my energy on students who came from some tough families. I felt like my purpose was to be a solid support to those students who didn’t see much of that at home. I was so concerned that I wouldn’t be able to bring the same joyous support to a class of private schoolers. Not only was I worried about this whole joy and light business, it saddened me that if I said yes to the private school, I would be saying “see you later” to a French position, something I have worked my lifetime on and knew I was guaranteed in the public sector. I went back and forth for the days to follow that phone call but as you may have guessed, after many conversations with those around me and a dash of prayer I made a decision. It didn’t take long for me to deeply know that I can be a light and joy in any workplace, religious or not. I even had a friend laugh in my face when I shared my dilemma. She said to me, “Alex you don’t think that only public schools need a kind-hearted teacher, do you”? I think she has me on that one. As for the French, I figured I would see it again some day, that part of my decision faded into the background quickly. I snatched up the offer with pride and am set to start at Pacific Academy in the fall.

Flashing forward to this month, my practicum is over and my days are being much more calmly spent. Last week my pastor (a previous teacher at PA) offered to tour me around my new school. He guided me through the many beautiful buildings and landscaped grounds to help give me an insider’s look into what will be my new job. He was able to introduce me to what may be the most friendly school staff I have ever met. I was greeted with open arms and cheerful grins at every encounter. I was able to see my new class (my very own classroom!) and meet the colleagues I will be working with closely over the next year. After a full, intensive tour I settled into my new principal’s office to go over some Work Safe paperwork. The principal mentioned to me that one of their educators, responsible for teaching French to a few additional classes had left the school prior to spring break. He said that with my French knowledge, I would be capable to teach not only my own class their weekly French, but would have the option to teach a few other classes their French as well. Well that did me in. Let me break this down for you, I will be working in a Christian environment, with children, and teaching the subject I have worked passionately on for a long time. I am where I am supposed to be right now.

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I wish so badly that I could go back and tell myself a year ago that everything was going to be ok. I would tell myself that I would in fact, fall in love with teaching and that everything was going to fit together so perfectly. Not only has God prepared an ultimate career path for me, he has given me a testimony to what it looks like when you hand over your decisions to Him. You may not see the fruit of your labour right away. You may not understand why God has placed you in the positions that he has, but I can promise you there is a reason. Just last year I was covered in uncertainty and felt trapped headed into a career that I wanted so badly to reject but God had a plan for what I was doing. He knitted my love for ministry, kids and languages all into a neat bow. I know things will change and the waters I’m floating on now will become choppy at some point or another, but how thankful am I that I have a God who cares about my future. I could be in the public sector a year or two down the road, or I could have a different career all together, I trust God with his plan for me and I know he has the best of the best in mind. If you are in unsettled waters, I urge you to have peace in knowing that God has already gone before you. He knows your every desire and wants the best for you. You have got something good up ahead, just keep your eyes on Him and know that he won’t fail you.

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